Tag Archives: african beach resorts

Our Top Ten Island Getaways in Africa and the Indian Ocean (Part 1)

Are you sitting at work dreaming of escaping to a tropical island in the sun? Forget the Caribbean, Africa has some truly gorgeous island getaways just right for escaping the cold winter or a wet summer. Some are tiny with just a handful of rustic hideaways whilst others are much larger and more established with lots of luxury hotels, fantastic water-sports and world class restaurants.  All of them have sublime scenery; some have dramatic rocky coves whilst others have dreamy beaches with white sand and turquoise waters. Here are the first 5 in our top 10 as voted by the Real Africa team.

Mfangano Island, Lake Victoria, Tanzania

Mfangano Island is found at the eastern end of Lake Victoria and it is one of the team’s favourite islands. The island is a great combination of beautiful scenery, laid back African atmosphere and great wildlife. You can while away many hours just relaxing on the island watching the incredible birdlife or going fishing for your supper. It is also home to one of our favourite camps run by the team behind Governors Camps.  Mfangano Island Camp is a luxury, island hideaway lodge lapped by the waters of Lake Victoria, shaded by giant fig trees, and a secluded atmosphere. There are beautiful lush gardens set on a private bay with enormous boulders which sit at the water’s edge providing a perch for cormorants or giant monitor lizards to sun themselves. You will feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life on Mfangano.

Ibo Island, Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique

Our intrepid explorer Lily nominated Ibo Island as one of her favourites having travelled to Mozambique last year. Ibo Island is part of the famous Quirimbas Archipelago which nestles in the Indian Ocean just off the coast of northern Mozambique. Once Mozambique’s mighty trading centre, Ibo Island has remained all but forgotten to the outside world for almost a century. Wander around this colonial little island town and hear tales of pirates and prisoners, turtle shells and silver. Explore old forts and ancient romantic buildings where you can almost feel the history come to life. Ibo is home to some wonderfully majestic historical architecture, some beautifully restored and some left as atmospheric ruins. Add to this almost dazzlingly white sandy beaches and warm turquoise waters, mangrove swamps and quaint fishing villages, giant sand dunes and lush greenery and you have a real paradise. Mozambique and the waters off Ibo Island are also famous for their pristine coral reefs and incredible marine wildlife including manta rays, rare dugongs, a variety of dolphins and all sorts of species of whales. We offer holidays to Ibo Island Lodge which is an award winning beach hotel with a fantastic location and stylish luxury accommodation.

Pemba, Tanzania

Pemba is a small island off the coast of its larger and more famous neighbour Zanzibar. Its remote location and small size has meant that it remained an untouched and pristine island of great beauty and history. The lush mosaic of forests, swamps, mangroves, and gently undulating hills combined with stunning hidden beaches and quiet lagoons makes for a serene and beautiful island getaway. The history of the island is told in the scattered ruins of mosques and tombs hidden away in the forest, some of which date back to Arab colonisation in the 17th century.

Likoma Island, Lake Malawi, Malawi

Likoma Island is another very popular destination amongst the team.  It is unusual in that it actually sits in Mozambican waters but is still part of Malawi. Likoma has a gentle, pretty landscape made up of rolling grassland dotted with trees, secluded coves and beaches and stunning views over to the mainland. There are a handful of hotels on the island but very little traffic as there are no paved roads and people travel by boat.  The waters here are crystal clear and warm making it perfect for snorkelling, diving, kayaking, fishing and sailing. The waters of the lake are also home to wonderful birdlife and the whole atmosphere is very peaceful indeed. We offer stays at the wonderful Kaya Mawa which is a 5 star luxury lodge with incredible views, secluded beaches and gorgeous rooms. It was voted by Conde Nast as one of the top ten most romantic places in the world.

Mafia Island, Tanzania

Another small island off the East African coast and part of the Zanzibar archipelago, Mafia Island is a proper Robinson Crusoe desert island. It is a place to get away and soak up nature in all its finest. Mafia Island’s coral reefs are renowned as an excellent, world-class diving destination. Scientists have confirmed that Mafia has some of the richest reefs in the world, with an unparalleled variety of hard and soft corals and diversity of tropical fish. If you are not one for diving you can explore the island’s nature trails and discover the hidden ruins of lost buildings reclaimed by the jungle. However it is really the gloriously pristine white sandy beaches lapped by gentle warm waters which you tend to have all to yourself that attract most people to Mafia Island. It is wonderfully peaceful and calming and a perfect place to relaxing. We offer a fantastic little rustic retreat called Chole Mjini if Mafia Island sounds the place for you.

If you fancy turning your daydreams into reality then give us a call and we can fix you up!

Posted by Ruth Bolton





Beach Retreats With A Difference? Africa’s Great Lakes.

Fancy a beach holiday but not by the sea? Some of Africa’s enormous inland lakes provide fabulously unique beach retreats on soft sandy beaches with warm turquoise waters to swim in, whilst others provide breath-taking mountain and forest scenery on its lakeshores.  Like the American Great Lakes these are Africa’s hidden gems. With all that these have to offer who needs the sea?!

Lake Malawi

Most people will have heard of Lake Malawi, also called Africa’s Lake of Stars by the explorer David Livingstone. It has long been an exciting holiday destination famous for its clear blue waters, beautiful mountain scenery, excellent diving opportunities and stunning sandy beaches. Lake Malawi is part of the Great Lakes region in the East African Rift system and can be found between Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. It is third largest lake in Africa and the second deepest at an unbelievable 700m  or 2300ft deep! It also ranks as the ninth largest in the world at 580 kms long and 75 kms wide. In fact it is much more like an inland sea than a lake.

The lake and its environs are protected by national park status and are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hundreds of species of fish are endemic to the lake and as such mean the lake is not only a great holiday destination but also vitally important environmentally. There are lots of fishing villages along the lake and also beach hotels but at the same time there are long stretches of totally uninhabited beaches and lakeshore, lapped by crystal clear waters and surrounded by lush greenery. Kayaking, sailing, snorkelling, scuba diving and water skiing are just some of the lake activities available to visitors.  Accommodation ranges from campsites to luxury hotels and everything in between. We offer a variety of places to stay including Pumulani with its stunning views, Chintheche Inn which is in an area famous for its beaches and Kaya Mawa on Likoma Island.

Lake Tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika was discovered by Burton and Speke in the mid-1800s during their search for the source of the Nile. Its central location mean that Lake Tanganyika’s waters meet the borders of Tanzania, Burundi, Congo and Zambia. It is the longest fresh water lake in the world at 677 kms long (but only 50kms wide) and the second deepest after Lake Baikal in Russia. The immense depth is because it lies in the Great Rift Valley, which also has created its steep shoreline and which makes it very scenic. In fact the depth of the lake reaches an incredible 1433 metres (4,700 feet) in places which is an astounding 642m below sea level! This beautiful lake is also a fabulous place to visit for a beach holiday and is a place for a truly romantic getaway.

Greystoke Mahale is on the Tanzanian side of the lake and is in a perfect location. The camp is right on the white sandy beach with the most scenic background imaginable of unspoilt forest and the 8,000ft high Mahale mountains. The camp was built to blend into the background so the little private wooden chalets known as bandas have been built from reclaimed wood from wrecked or retired dhows from the villages along the lakeshore.  Old fisherman’s canoes as used as ladders and thatch is made from palm trees. Its remote location and its small size (just 6 bandas) means that the beach is incredibly peaceful and unspoilt and the whole atmosphere of the place is enchanting.

Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is another one of the African Great Lakes. It lies on the border Rwanda and Congo DR, and is in the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift. It is 89 kms long and 48 kms wide and is the sixth largest lake in Africa. A stay on the lakeshore makes for a fantastic stopover between the national parks of Rwanda and a relaxing to contrast to the demanding exercise of gorilla trekking.

The scenery here is stunning with the lush verdant fields and terraces leading up the high peaks of the surrounding mountains and cloud forests. This lake not only has beaches but it also has historic colonial towns and stunning views everywhere you look. You can stay at the Lake Kivu Serena, part of the upmarket Serena chain of hotels, or if you are looking for somewhere smaller and more intimate then the Cormoran Lodge is the place for you. Lake Kivu really is the definition of a hidden gem!

Lake Tana

Finally for something a little different this beautiful lake in Ethiopia may not be somewhere you have heard of but for those of you who fancy visiting the incredible historic sites of Ethiopia, this place makes a fantastic finale. Lake Tana,  the source of the Blue Nile, gives you the chance to relax on the shores of the lake for some much needed time out.  The lake is 96kms long and 50 kms wide and is in the northern part of the East African Rift System. It is home to a variety of different islands some of which have historic monasteries and churches hidden away. We offer a great place to stay where you can soak up the delights of the lake in comfort and style.  Kuriftu Resort enjoys cool off-shore breezes all year round, breath-taking lake views and a clever blend of native Ethiopian architecture and décor. The resort comprises of 28 suites, a gigantic swimming pool with sunbathing terrace and a gourmet restaurant so you can relax in total comfort.

Likoma Island, Lake Malawi

Whether you are looking for a beach holiday with a twist or for a relaxing finale at the end of your safari then you really should consider a stay on the shores of one of Africa’s Great Lakes!

Posted by Ruth Bolton


Guide to the Best Accommodation in Africa

I don’t know about you but when I book a holiday I like to find out all about the accommodation just as much as the all important location.  I like to mix it up from year to year – one year roughing it in the great outdoors and cooking over a campfire the next staying in a tiny little B&B filled with local colour and customs. I have also been lucky enough to have stayed in some amazingly luxurious hotels and some truly heavenly resorts. Africa can offer all of these and much, much more.

In South Africa and especially in Cape Town you can stay in what are known in SA as Bed and Breakfasts. They are quite different to what we in the UK regard as a B&B. They tend to be small, boutique style hotels filled with charm and character. There are some truly amazing places like this in Cape Town such as 4 Rosemead and Leeuwenvoet House.  Another fantastic option for accommodation in South Africa near Cape Town are the vineyards which offer accommodation , often in Dutch Cape style cottages scattered around the lush gardens. Where better to sample the wines and then head home only a short walk away at the end of an evening?

If you want to get closer to nature and experience the African bush properly then a tented camp is the way to go. These usually consist of a raised wooden platform, covered by a sturdy, heavy duty canvas tent. They can be quite simple with just some beds and a couple of chairs for watching the wildlife or they can be unbelievably luxurious.  Some even have roll top baths and chandeliers! At Governors Camp in Kenya the emphasis is on elegance and history and the tents are decked out in colonial finery. Others like the Karen Blixen Camp (pictured above) are simply stylish.  There are also plenty of wonderful safari bases in the Kruger National Park in South Africa which are famous for their elegance and luxury; camps such as Garonga or lodges like Singita.

In places like Botswana and Zambia the accommodation in the national parks is often strictly limited so most of the lodges are very small with a maximum of 10  or 12 guests at one time. This creates an amazingly intimate atmosphere and you truly feel you are out in the African wilderness.  Places like Kapani and Kakuli in Zambia and Chitabe in Botswana are all small and exclusive camps in wonderful locations.

Another alternative is the eco-lodge which is a more permanent structure but is built to be sustainable and to hide amongst its surroundings. Most of the permanent safari lodges operate this way and offer tasteful accommodation with all the comforts of home but a  world of wildlife at your feet. As you enjoy your sundowners overlooking the busy watering hole at sunset you can enjoy the peace of mind knowing your bed is just feet away.

If you are looking for some downtime on the beach there are some fabulous beach resorts to stay at; from small secluded boutique hotels  to giant resorts with excellent facilities and watersports on offer – the Kenyan coast has a wide range of Indian Ocean resorts. Or something more exotic then you could go for Emerson and Green set in the heart of historic Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar. Or if its the world famous beautiful turquoise sea you fancy then the Langi Langi Resort is a great choice with wooden huts built on stilts right on the beach. Mauritius is another fantastic place for a beach holiday and combines well with a safari in South Africa. Again there is a fantastic range of accommodation on offer including some wonderful luxurious beach resorts just perfect for honeymooners.

There are new places being discovered all the time from beach resorts in Mozambique offering the finest scuba diving to new eco-resorts in the Namibian sand dunes; from total luxury in the South African winelands to tiny, little camps in Botswana – there really is something for everyone.